3 min read
"Loveless" author Alice Oseman on why aroace representation in fiction is important.
As of this morning, our community has another fabulous novel to reach for when seeking out positive aroace representation! Alice Oseman, author of Radio Silence, just published a new YA novel titled Loveless this morning, so we sat down for a conversation about the importance of aroace representation in youth literature.
Why is ace and aro representation in books important to you?
Representation in books can act as education. It can teach aro and ace people about themselves, which can help them feel more comfortable in themselves and help them to find a community. And it can teach people who aren't aro or ace about these identities, so that they can be more empathetic, knowledgeable and understanding towards aro/ace people and issues. The aro and ace communities get so little representation at the moment that I felt it was very important to use my knowledge and platform to write some!
What inspired you to write ace and aro characters into your work?
I am aro and ace myself, and I know that a book like Loveless would have helped me to come to terms with being aroace much earlier! Not only is there a lack of aro and ace representation overall, but there is a particular lack of stories that focus on the experience of being aro and ace, so I really wanted to write that sort of story.
How do your own experiences and identities inform your novels?
My books are always a little inspired by things that I know and I have experienced. For example, in Radio Silence, I explored the pressures of academia, as that was something that was affecting my life very greatly at the time. And in Loveless, the main character's experience of being aroace is very similar to mine.
What does the word "Loveless" mean to you?
It's one of the biggest challenges that I faced while coming to terms with my identity - the fear that, by accepting myself for who I am, I was dooming myself to being 'loveless'. It's also an ironic word within the context of the story, because what the protagonist Georgia eventually learns is that she isn't, and never will be 'loveless', because she has a group of wonderful friends who are just as important as a romantic partner ever could be. I felt that it was the perfect title for the book because it's something that's so present within the early stages of Georgia's journey - something she's fighting against - but as she grows towards self-acceptance, she realises that it never really existed.
How does your book counter the belief that love is a requirement for happiness?
Georgia begins her story obsessed with the idea that the only way to get her 'happily ever after' is to fall in love. But she grows to realise that it's her platonic friendships who are the source of the joy in her life - they are her happily ever after! It's very important to me in all of my works to emphasise the fact that platonic love can be just as powerful, if not more sometimes, than romantic love.
What do you think this book will mean to young people who are exploring their identity?
I hope that it will make aro and ace teens feel seen and understood, but I also hope that it lets them know that it's okay for them to take their time in figuring out their identity - that it's okay to be confused, or angry, or scared by what you're feeling at first. Figuring out your identity can be very hard and there can be a lot of hurdles!
What advice would you give to aspiring ace and aro authors?
Your stories deserve to be heard! YA fiction in particular is doing great things for aro and ace representation. There are many books with aro and ace characters being published, and there are many aro and ace authors being published, and I'm sure that will only continue to grow.
Is there anything else you'd like our community to know?
If you're looking for more aro and ace stories, here are some recommendations from me!
- Summer Bird Blue - Akemi Dawn Bowman
- Let's Talk About Love - Claire Kann
- Tarnished Are the Stars - Rosiee Thor
- Tash Hearts Tolstoy - K.E. Ormsbee